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A glass of Letra beer © Courtesy of Cerveja Letra Brewery
A glass of Letra beer © Courtesy of Cerveja Letra Brewery
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The Best Portuguese Beers to Try on Your Trip

Picture of Nina Santos
Updated: 29 March 2017
Is there anything better than a cold beer while sitting on the beach? What about a crisp ale with a side of seafood? Most people know about Portuguese wines, but knowledge of the cervejas may be a little hazy. The craft beer scene has finally hit the Iberian Peninsula and this coastal region now has a beer culture that’s all its own. Calling all beer lovers, don’t leave Portugal before trying these brands!

Sagres

One of the most popular beer companies in Portugal is arguably Sagres. It is also the second oldest company, having been established in 1934. The pale lager is the most common type but Sagres also produces a Preta (a dark ale), Bohemia (which is auburn), Radler (the pale ale with an extra fruity kick), along with occasional specials. When you order an imperial in Portugal (a small draught), it will either be Sagres or Super Bock.

Super Bock

This is the oldest beer company in Portugal, established in 1927, and those who don’t favor Sagres usually prefer Super Bock. You’re likely to see either one or the other spotlighted at tascas (small restaurants); Super Bock is also the sponsor for the major music festival Super Bock Super Rock in Lisbon. It has a crisp flavor and other varieties include a Stout, a Green (a slightly fruity blend), and an Abadia (which is a unique red color). The classic Super Bock ale, however, remains a favorite.

Superbock is a major beer company in Portugal © Stefano Cislaghi / Flickr
Superbock is a major beer company in Portugal | © Stefano Cislaghi / Flickr

Sovina

Introducing, one of Portugal’s first craft beers! It was first produced in Porto but can now be found in many major cities, including Lisbon. Do you like to know exactly what you’re drinking? Sovina is made purely with water, yeast, malt, and hops, and the company boasts a complete lack of colorings and preservatives. They also have a beer that first sits in wine barrels, for a nice cultural mix in addition to more flavor. Bottoms up!

Dois Corvos

This is a craft beer brewed in Lisbon, which offers a range of styles from IPAs to Porters and Pale Ales. The company was established in 2013 and served its first beer to the public in 2015, so it’s still very young. Dois Corvos has a bit of fun naming its beers, drawing from Lisbon and general humor, including Avenida, Metropolitan, Stardust, and Três Santos.

Cerveja Musa

While browsing Lisbon’s beer and liquor stores, you may notice a shelf or stand filled with brightly toned bottles and super unique names, like Red Zeppe-Lin Ale and Born in the IPA. These are a couple of the Cerveja Musa brands. From the hop-filled lager (called Mick Lager) to an India Pale Ale (the Born in the IPA), these beers are as eclectic as their names and tasty too. This is definitely an artisanal beer with a lot of personality.

Letra

On the other hand, maybe it’s better for a beer to have a simpler name? What’s easier than a single letter? Letra literally translates as “letter” and as it suggests, each style of beer is categorized by its own letter: A for Weiss, B for Pilsner, C for Stout, and D for Red Ale. Keeping with this simplicity, the ingredients are marketed as 100% natural, free from preservatives or coloring. Letra hails from the north of Portugal but can also be found in the capital and cities in between (and south of Lisbon, too).

Letra C © Courtesy of Cerveja Letra Brewery
Letra C | © Courtesy of Cerveja Letra Brewery

Maldita

Last but certainly not least on this list is Maldita, a beer brewed in Aveiro Portugal with a name that translates roughly into the curse ‘damn’. This artisanal beer company has produced three styles: a robust Porter, a Bohemian Pilsener, and an English Barleywine. Although brewed in Portugal, the recipes are influenced by worldwide classics. Maldita’s Porter was influenced by the Porters in England, the Bohemian recipe stems from Bavaria, and the Barleywine is based on a recipe which dates back to the Viking era. Tasty and interesting!